How to Build a Winning Team: Advice from Experienced Crypto Entrepreneurs for Newbies by@maria-lobanova

How to Build a Winning Team: Advice from Experienced Crypto Entrepreneurs for Newbies

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The launch of any project begins with three stages - market research, business plan development and team building. Building a team is the most challenging work for a founder as it deals with the most vulnerable material - human resources. Decentralization is a challenge especially acute for the founders of web3 and blockchain projects. A decentralized team can be seen as an advantage for many employees. A remote way of communication cuts down on disagreements within one team. Clear goals and clear goals help founders to understand whether an employee fits the team. Soft skills are essential to find an appropriate candidate in terms of skills.
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Maria Lobanova

Journalist, crypto investor

The launch of any project begins with three stages - market research, business plan development, and team building. Building a team is the most challenging work for a founder as it deals with the most vulnerable material – human resources.

For any project, an efficient and strong team is the key to success. Here are the main tips already successful entrepreneurs recommend to keep in mind when finding the right people to form the team.

Decentralization as a Challenge

Decentralization is a challenge that is especially acute for the founders of web3 and blockchain projects. If your business is local or regional, then you hire a team located in this certain region. But most web3 and blockchain products are meant to be spread all around the globe.

When you run a decentralized global project, your team is located all around the world in different regions, and you just can't supervise them every day. It supposes some kind of lack of control, but it also offers a certain level of freedom.

“It's challenging for many employees and many entrepreneurs. You need self-starters, able to be productive without supervision,” CEO Master Ventures Kyle Chasse says. “An entrepreneur has to find the right balance between trust and control.”

According to Chasse, on the one hand, an entrepreneur needs to be able to delegate tasks and trust key employees, i.e., heads of various departments.

On the other hand, he needs to keep abreast and control the situation, because only time will tell if the trust was justified and whether the employee showed himself responsible.

Still, a decentralized team can be seen as an advantage for many employees. A remote way of communication cuts down on disagreements within one team.

“I feel like so much negativity at work comes from office politics since people are forced to go into an office and interact with one another. That type of stuff doesn’t happen with a decentralized team,” CEO MNNT Michael Christine adds.
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Michael Christine, Chief Executive Officer at MNNT  

In Search for Team Leaders

When it comes to building a team, the first thing many think about is searching for employees. But often, the first step supposes finding not only subordinates but also searching for business partners.

Jenny Yang, Founder and CEO of Star Consulting, compares this process to finding partners in personal life, with very similar criteria to be guided by:

“An appropriate co-founder is crucial and it’s almost as difficult if not harder than finding a life partner. The important qualities I’m looking at include if we share the same vision and goals, their experience, knowledge, network, and how they complement the founder to make a great leadership team.”
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Jenny Yang, Founder and CEO of Star Consulting

Key leading employees and department managers are also the first people to search for while building a team. They will share the work of taking over the team management and finding a balance between leadership, teamwork, and communication.

They should be able to take the time to learn more about their team members and acknowledge their contributions and achievements.

“The goal of every leader is to create a friendly, professional and responsible team that will work like a natural organism. Such an approach encourages collaboration and communication among all team members”, Co-founder of TTM Group Alexander Politayko says.

Same Vision and Clear Goals

Corporate culture is critical for a team. The team members should share the same vision, or at least, have a consensus on it. Furthermore, the company should clarify the recruitment goals at the start of the hiring process. This will serve as a filter. It is key to a stable and reliable team.

"If a company is able to define the short-term goals and long-term goals, respectively, then the smart founder would be able to identify what resources or talents are needed for the milestone of every different phase," Richard Wang, Partner at DraperDragon Fund, believes.
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Richard Wang, Partner at DraperDragon Fund

Clear goals and direction help founders understand whether an employee fits the team.

“A major thing for us is the employee’s ability to take direction and then execute on what is being asked of them in a timely manner. You would be surprised at the amount of people who hear instructions and do something completely different than what was asked which results in things having to be redone again,” Michael Christine from MNNT says.

According to his approximate calculations, with clear direction and goals, the first two weeks are enough to understand that this person is a right fit.

Soft Skills and No Toxicity

The team, as a whole, acts like a single organism, with every team member being a vital part of the system. But the system may never be born if its parts cannot interact with each other. In other words, soft skills are essential.

Thus, challenge #1 is to find an appropriate candidate in terms of skills. Challenge #2 is to find an appropriate candidate who fits your team, who will align with values, is not toxic, and is easygoing with the team.

“Toxic employees can destroy your team emotionally. It's a delayed time bomb that will effectively blow up all the project.” CEO Debifi Max Kei urges.

However, sometimes certain toxic values such as selfishness can be good for a company's productivity if they are used as management tools.

“There is nothing wrong with a certain level of selfishness, if the team can benefit from it. If it's a professional who does his job perfectly, this is acceptable. But it is important to maintain a balance here, the selfishness of one employee should not infringe and ignore the interests of other team members,” Politayko from TTM Group clarifies.
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Co-founder TTM Group Alexander Politayko

At the same time, the company from its side should create a friendly atmosphere for teamwork while maintaining subordination. An attractive workplace can attract talents and keep them in the team. A good culture encourages good values and behaviors so employees can feel nurtured in a positive way.

Skilled Professionals vs Newbies

All founders dream of leading a team of super professionals, where each employee is both an experienced specialist and a good team player. But if a startup deals with such young industries as cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and web3, founders have to put up with a lack of super-experienced professionals, simply because these fields of knowledge are very young.

In addition, it is often difficult to create a strong team consisting entirely of bright stars.

According to Politayko, bright employees often focused on personal success play a role as the first booster stage of a rocket flying into space.

“They ignite the team, lift it at increasing velocity, and drop off, while the ship flies further to its target. They deliver energy at the very beginning of the journey.”

But they quickly burn out and employees focused on routine work come here, steer your cart off the road like workhorses and continue moving towards the goal, he adds.

“It’s definitely necessary to recruit promising newcomers. A company would need new blood if it wants to grow and develop,” Jenny Yang from Star Consulting says. “I don’t have a definitive answer to the question about the optimal ratio, but what I can say is that the company needs to have an environment that allows and encourages each employee to be the best version of themselves.”

According to Politayko’s vision, the ratio between skilled professionals and newcomers should fluctuate around 70% vs. 30%.

Be Ready to Risk

No matter how well-thought-out the strategy was, not everything always goes according to plan. Bright experienced professionals are often slow to adapt to the team.

Young employees do not always get along with skilled mentors. Someone turns out to be toxic in communication, or someone quickly burns out. CEO Debifi Max Kei summarizes the key idea of building a successful team:

“There's no secret at all. You need to take risks every time. It's only time that can actually prove that you've chosen the right person.”
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